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Why do credit union members leave for banks?

Published on September 21, 2023

6 minutes read
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At a glance:

Learn why members leave credit unions for banks and reverse the trend today. Optimize your credit union strategy for member engagement. ​

As a credit union, you work hard on your member-focused approach, community-oriented values, and personalized service. However, in recent years, a concerning trend has emerged – An increasing number of credit union members are opting to switch to traditional banks affecting credit union growth.  

But why? And what can you do about it? 

Let’s explore the reasons behind the shift, so you can implement strategies that deal with these issues head-on, empowering your institution to retain its existing members (and attract new ones!) 

1) Lack of Technological Advancements


Some members choose to leave credit unions for banks because they perceive that traditional banks offer more advanced technology and digital banking solutions. Especially if your credit union is smaller, you may struggle to keep up with today’s rapid pace of technological innovation.


Aim to prioritize investment in modern digital infrastructure. By doing so, you’ll be ready to offer your members an exceptional online and mobile banking experience – from user-friendly mobile apps, online banking platforms, and features like mobile check deposits and person-to-person payments.

2) Limited Accessibility and Convenience


Some credit unions may have a limited number of branches or ATMs compared to large banks. If this is the case for your institution, you can make interacting with your credit union less convenient for members, especially those who travel frequently or move to new locations.


Tackle this by expanding your branch and ATM networks. You can also collaborate with shared branching networks, granting your members convenient access to their accounts across various locations. 

3) Perceived Product and Service Offerings


Some people opt for banks over credit unions due to a perception that banks offer a broader range of financial products and services. Your credit union may provide excellent loan rates and savings accounts, but some potential members may be completely unaware of these benefits.


Enhance your marketing efforts to effectively communicate the full spectrum of services you offer. From mortgage options and investment products to business banking solutions, flaunt what you’ve got to your future members! 

4) Financial Education and Guidance


As banks are often associated with vast financial resources and a wide range of financial advisors, some individuals believe that they’ll receive more comprehensive guidance at a bank. 


Your credit union can counter this belief by investing in robust financial education programs. Empower your members with the knowledge and tools to make informed financial decisions by providing workshops, seminars, and online resources on topics like budgeting, saving, and investing. When your members are informed, their decisionmaking and confidence increases.

5) Brand Perception and Awareness


Branding and public perception of credit unions also play a role in member retention. Potential members may have misconceptions about credit unions or simply lack awareness. 


You can focus on building a strong brand identity for your institution. Emphasize your community-driven values and member-centric approach. You can engage in local community initiatives and social outreach to help increase brand visibility and foster a positive reputation for your credit union. 

6) Competitive Rates and Fees


Members may perceive a difference in interest rates, fees, or service charges and leave a credit union for a bank. 


Regularly review and adjust your pricing structure to remain competitive in the market while also ensuring you can sustainably support your operations and provide stellar member service. Communicating transparently about fee structures and membership benefits can also help eliminate any misconceptions. 


You have the power to reshape the trend of credit union members migrating to banks – and it starts with taking proactive steps. By directly tackling the driving forces pushing members away and embracing modern technology, expanding your reach, enhancing educational programs, and building strong brand awareness, your institution can reclaim its competitive edge and reaffirm its position as a trusted financial partner in your community. By prioritizing member needs and delivering exceptional service, your credit union can build lasting connections and draw a steady influx of new members.

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